I managed to write 2300 words on Sunday, but only 200 words yesterday. Today I’m trying to get access to my work email account; apparently the IT team migrated my account but failed to set up a new mailbox in Outlook, which means I haven’t been able to communicate with my students since last week. Their first paper is due tomorrow, and I imagine panic has already set in. I have one particular student who seems emotionally unstable, and I’m hoping the dean’s office will get him the support he clearly needs. There’s been a lot of bad news lately—the prolonged, angry, violent response to an inflammatory anti-Muslim video made in the US makes the possibility of peace seem so remote. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is *defending* remarks he made back in May that 47% of Americans (those voting for President Obama) are content to be dependent on government assistance. Even David Brooks found that idea despicable:
The people who receive the disproportionate share of government spending are not big-government lovers. They are Republicans. They are senior citizens. They are white men with high school degrees. As Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution has noted, the people who have benefited from the entitlements explosion are middle-class workers, more so than the dependent poor.
Romney’s comments also reveal that he has lost any sense of the social compact. In 1987, during Ronald Reagan’s second term, 62 percent of Republicans believed that the government has a responsibility to help those who can’t help themselves. Now, according to the Pew Research Center, only 40 percent of Republicans believe that.
Yesterday I turned off the TV. I’m reading a fantastic novel by Vincent Lam, The Headmaster’s Wager, but almost had to put the book down when I reached a passage that described in graphic detail the slaughter of two Cantonese girls by Japanese troops occupying Viet Nam. There are a couple of scenes of torture in the novel, which have lingered in my mind. Then I watched Season 1 & 2 of Luther, which is a British crime drama that’s more violent than any UK show I’ve seen to date. Idris Alba plays an expert detective who can’t control his own rage; after endless outbursts at home and on the job, Luther’s wife is murdered and his colleagues have no doubt believing him capable of such a crime. I ended the show wondering why we always seem to need violent men to stop violent men. I’m trying to finish Judah’s Tale and I’m always conscious of the fact that some people find my male characters “too good to be true.” Judah’s not perfect—no one is. But I *do* want him to serve as an example of a young man who actively resists the stereotypes that abound about black men. Still, I have to tell the truth. It’s hard.
I was on the train yesterday, reading, and had just reached another critical scene in The Headmaster’s Wager when I noticed someone standing in front of me. I looked up and it was my student—her smiling face instantly drew me out of the grim scene in the book, and then she held up the book *she* was reading: Angela Davis’ Women, Race & Class! We’re reading Chapter 1 in my Black Women in the Americas class. I had one student in my Black Male class admit that he looks at everything differently now. It’s a start…